KUALA LUMPUR (SIN CHEW DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Institutions of higher learning in China are intensifying efforts to recruit more Malaysian and Asean students to study in China.
After 40 years of development at fast pace, China is now a destination of foreign students.
Although Malaysia and China maintain friendly ties with close collaboration in many sectors, the number of Malaysian students studying in China is not high. The figure falls behind Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and Laos.
Education experts are of the view that with the presence of China's Belt and Road Initiative, more Malaysian students would consider studying in China.
Duke Kunshan University in Kunshan city in Jiangsu, jointly run by the United States and China, hopes to recruit more students from Malaysia and Asean countries.
The first batch of students starts in autumn 2018. It started accepting application this month.
Vice-president of the university, Mr Denis Simon, said the university hopes to recruit quality students throughout the world and especially welcome Asian students.
He stressed that Asean countries such as Malaysia, Vietnam and Indonesia are currently undergoing rapid economic development and these countries are gaining prominence in Asia.
Duke Kunshan University is near Shanghai, located in the heart of China's Yangtze River Delta Economic Zone.
Duke Kunshan University is jointly operated by Duke University, which is one of the top 10 universities in the US, and China's renowned Wuhan University.
Apart from Duke Kunshan University, other universities in China have also sped up their pace in recruiting Malaysian students.
In a rare move, Jinan University in Guangdong province released a recruitment notice targeting Malaysian students aged between 18 and 30 on its website early this year. The notice includes details on application procedure.
Located in Guangzhou city and founded in 1906, Jinan University has the most number of international students among universities in China.
Based on statistics from the Education Ministry of China, the number of Malaysian students in institutions of higher learning in China has increased slightly in the last two years.
In 2015, the number of Malaysian students studying in China was 6,650. It increased to 6,880 last year. Of the number of foreign students in China, Malaysians are currently at the 15th place.
China's largest pool of foreign students comes from the Asian region.
Of the 442,773 foreign students in China, about 60 per cent are from Asia. Up till the end of 2016, the number of Asean students studying in China has reached more than 80,000.
Chinese ambassador to Malaysia Huang Huikang, in an interview with China Daily, said the number of scholarship offered by Chinese government to Malaysian students is gradually increasing.
Said Mr Pan You You, 23, from Selangor: "Learning the process of new spirit in entrepreneurship at Beijing University is very encouraging.
"This is the first time for me to be in China. Beijing has given me lots of surprises in many sectors."
He participated in a summer school session jointly organised by Beijing University and London School of Politics and Economics in Beijing this year, and hoped to understand innovation and entrepreneurship in various parts of the world, especially new trends in China.
In recent years, many Malaysian start-ups have achieved great success in China, especially in the science and technology sector.
After attending the summer school, Mr Pan had a better understanding how those companies succeeded.
Educationists are of the view that with the development in the Belt and Road Initiative, institutions of higher learning in China will be an option for Malaysian students.
A Beijing educationist Tan Hao said: "Malaysian students should not only consider traditional places of study such as the United States and Europe."